Dealing with Negativity on Social Media

Social media is a wonderful tool, with which we could not do without. However, it does have its downsides—one of them being that it, by its very nature, invites user input. We are literally opening ourselves up to opinions all day long, simply by having a Facebook page for our churches. So, what happens when things get nasty? What do you do when an argument erupts in the comments, or when a church member starts trolling your Instagram account? Let’s discuss. . . . 

Respond on Social Media. 

If you ignore it, it won’t go away. It stays there, and everyone can see that you ignored it. So, you must respond. Usually, a simple reply or a DM to discuss the issue is best. If the comment is severe enough, you might want to try to call or email said person outside of social media—but do not publicly shame them or make them feel bad for whatever was written. Remember: Whatever you put out there, everyone can see! This may be obvious, but it’s not always something that we remember. Your reply and the tone with which you reply is something that will live forever. The bottom line is: find a way to take care of the comments or arguments. Don’t pretend they’re not happening.  

Don’t overreact. 

While you must react, you also don’t want to overreact and take your response too far. Unless the comments are laced with profanity and inappropriateness, deleting them would be considered an overreaction. Let other users see how you handle conflict with respect and kindness and let the user who was causing said conflict see that you cannot be bullied into an overreaction. You are in control! So, take control here and make the choice not to have a knee-jerk response to negativity. Most of the time, comments like this can be handled with a level head and without freaking out.  

Let other users see how you handle conflict with respect and kindness and let the user who was causing said conflict see that you cannot be bullied into an overreaction. Click To Tweet

Stand by your response. 

Unless you realize later that you have made a mistake by overreacting (see above), stand by the choice you made in handling these situations online. Own the choice you have made to deal with them the way you have, and don’t back down even if questioned. In order to do this, it might be wise to sit down with some key leaders and create a policy for dealing with these kinds of altercations so you can refer back to it from time-to-time—especially if someone questions your judgment or how you handled the situation. If there is a policy to fall back on, you can easily use it in those circumstances, which gives you even greater credibility. 

Dealing with negative people comes with the leadership territory, but sometimes on social media it can get out of control. It is your job to moderate the negativity when it comes, but make sure it’s something that you are prepared for and are willing to think through before you do anything. Over-correcting is sometimes just as bad as doing nothing, so find the line, get good support from leadership, and stick to it! 

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Thoughtful Social Media Conduct

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